Remember 2016? It was the year that our smartphones became boring, and smartwatches proved to be less a revolution than an alternative to any other watch. But things also got weird this year: VR finally had its moment in the limelight—Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both hit after years of hype—while Pokemon Go and Snapchat normalized augmented reality, seemingly overnight.
Here are our favorite—and least favorite—UI projects from the year.
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In a world where every speaker in your home wants to crack a joke, Clara is a quiet revolution in AI assistants. Rather than living in some product or app, Clara is a virtual person that you simply CC on emails. She then gets to work scheduling meetings or dinner reservations on your behalf. Never mind that Clara is really a small sweatshop of people doing these tasks for you while Clara’s own AI grows up. Clara frames AI not as a friend who needs your attention, but as a powerful tool that you could mindlessly loop into any email on any platform. It made giving up my Clara trial account feel like I was handing over my personal time machine to the year 2030.